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Bulgaria: Eastern European initiative on small arms

12-10-2000 News Release 00/39

   From 1 to 3 October, in Sofia, the Bulgarian Red Cross, in conjunction with the Norwegian Red Cross and the Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers (NISAT), held a regional seminar on small arms for the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of south-eastern Europe. The purpose was to discuss the problem of small arms proliferation both globally and in the region and to examine how National Societies could best implement a resolution on arms availability adopted by the 1999 Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

" Unregulated arms availability can facilitate violations of international humanitarian law, increase civilian suffering and impede assistance to victims, " said ICRC Mines-Arms Unit coordinator Peter Herby at the seminar. Recently, regional efforts have been made to control the flow of arms from and within Europe. " But there is a need to focus much more on the human costs of small arms proliferation, " said Herby.

The National Societies of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Yugoslavia took part in the seminar, which was also attended by the Norwegian Red Cross, NISAT, the International Federation and the ICRC. The participants expressed concern about the effects of small arms circulation on communities in the region and several National Societies showed an interest in developing national or regional activities, especially with a view to raising public awareness and promoting alternatives to a culture of violence.